North Korea's New York Connection
The Times article about the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee has a throwaway line midway through the second page that you may have missed as you were reading it:"Among those accompanying Mr. Clinton was David Straub, a former director of the Korea desk at the State Department, who had held talks with the North Koreans through what is known as the "New York connection.""What this New York connection is, the Times does not see fit to elaborate. I'm just speculating here, but could they be referring to Bobby Egan, the owner of Cubby's BBQ restaurant in Hackensack, New Jersey? Egan, for those of you who have missed the occasional article that pops up about him, is an "unofficial ambassador" to North Korea (a country where we don't have an official ambassador). Egan has, through a set of bizarre circumstances, created relationships with the leaders of several rogue states-his restaurant features a picture of him at a football game with Saddam Hussein's ambassador to the U.N., and he currently is a go-between for U.S. officials and North Korean officials who cannot officially speak to each other.Whether or not this is what the Times is referring to, Cubby's must have been a hotbed of intrigue these last months as the government worked to find a way to get the two women home. It's worth reading about the intensely strange way some of our statecraft is being dealt with. Here is the New Yorker's take, The Washington Post's, and Vanity Fair's.You also must check out the still very relevant GOOD Guide to North Korea.Photo by Helayne Seidman for The Washington Post.